Russian Federation blocks Telegram Messenger

Charlene Craig
April 17, 2018

An estimated 9.5 million of Telegram's 200 million global users live in Russian Federation. On March 20, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor gave Telegram 15 days to comply. Telegram says that since it offers end-to-end encryption to users, submitting to the FSB demand would have required an overhaul of the entire service. They included nearly 2 million Amazon and Google IP addresses, as well as services linked to Microsoft, according to analysis by IT consultant Vladislav Zdolnikov, the founder of the TgVPN service.

The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018.

By Tuesday morning, some 2,5 million IP-addresses were blocked reports. The number of blocked Amazon IP addresses was put at about 1 million by the same activists.

This morning the Russian authorities blocked Telegram, therefore the service could be unstable with some telecom operators.

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Russian Federation has acted to curb internet freedoms as social media have become the main way to organise demonstrations. Durov stated on social media that the app was removed from Apple after the tech company informed Telegram that their app had inappropriate content. Durov noted that once Telegram had proper security measures installed on its product, Apple would once again offer it to iPhone users.

This sudden elimination of IP addresses might have been from Telegram's decision to move their services over to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud servers. Businesses in Russian Federation with links either to Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud have experienced website outages. It also threatened repercussions to VPN providers and other online services which could be used to circumvent the court order. "As a result, nearly six hours of service downtime", said Vladimir Kobzev, an engineer at Ptichka.

The messaging platform's decision to not hand out the keys will lead to repercussions and will be facing a ban in Russian Federation.

Earlier, on April 17, Roskomnadzor announced that the agency would battle with services that allow users to bypass the Telegram blocking.

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Telegram is reportedly using the addresses to get around the block.

"We believe the ban is anti-constitutional and will continue to defend the right of Russians to private messaging", said Durov, who left Russia in 2014 and is now based in Dubai. "Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven't disclosed a single byte of our users' private data to third parties".

The trial took place without Telegram's defense team.

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The app´s creator Pavel Durov banned lawyers representing Telegram from attending the court hearing so as not to legitimise it. Telegram's service has faced temporary blocks in Iran - over content being spread on the platform that the regime dislikes.

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